Monthly Archives: July 2002

World Wide Woe

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For months, Americans have watched the boom of the 1990s erode into the bear market of 2002. They have seen record-breaking bankruptcies, mind-bending accounting scandals, and free falling stock indexes hitting 1998 lows. It’s not just Americans who are watching and worrying. Europe’s economy is stagnant. Japan has been unable to reverse its downturn. And now investors the world over are fearful that if the world’s most powerful engine for growth stutters and stalls, their economies may never recover. While the U.S. economy slides, the rest of the world reacts and recalibrates. Domestic recovery, global growth: Forecasting America’s future. The view from London, Wall Street, and you.


Bill Emmott, editor-in-chief, The Economist

William Dudley, chief economist, Goldman Sachs

Charlotte Denny, economics correspondent, The Guardian

Vacation Starvation

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We work too hard, and many die under the strain. Steinbeck’s portrayal of the labourers’ lot during the Depression has a familiar ring today, for both the blue collars and the white. Americans toiling behind counters, on shop floors or in fields filled with PCs and fax machines find the hours are long, vacations are short.

Many hardly take a break at all. Stats show Americans work harder than the rest of the world, for a few extra bucks in the pocket, and quite a lot more for the firm. But there is a price, depression, divorce, death. The alcoholic lives longer than the workaholic.

So hey, the sun is shining, the beach is beckoning, and the water’s just fine. The new public health threat: vacation deficit disorder.


Joe Robinson, author of the upcoming book “Work to Live”

Lonnie Golden, economist, Penn State University, Isabelle Guetta, international trainer and consultant

Synergy or Bust

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A marriage made in Heaven, but the groom was a bit of a sham. The youngster looked so hunky, rich and strong. But his wealth was just on paper, or was it ether? Call him AOL, his deluded, old-fashioned bride: Time Warner.

The biggest deal in history, it was billed at the time, a new era in marketing, in media, in mega. AOL had the cash, AOL got the marquee name and the Chair.

Fair enough. But 18 months on, some see something shady in the courtship and the ceremony; not illegal, but achieved through careful, clever, “creative” accounting. Then the mantra was “bigger is better.” Drugs, cars and oil companies, telecoms and techs, all competed for the mega-merge. Many took a nose-dive, just check the Dow.


Frank Ahrens, Washington Post staff writer

Jeffery Rayport, CEO of Marketspace, and high-tech, media and entertainment businees analyst

Tom Graves, equity analyst at Standard and Poor’s

Student Visas

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Benazir Bhutto and Carlos Salinas. Ehud Barak and Corazon Aquino. Top names all, and all educated on American campuses. The U.S. student visa links America and the world. As was also the case with Hani Hasan Hanjour, Mohammed Atta, too, though his came through a little late. You open the door to future leaders, you open the door to terrorists.

A million or more foreign students learn and train on American soil, lost in the system, poorly logged, hard to trace. An enemy within, say post-9-11 alarmists and a debate is raging, what does the U.S. gain? All agree the system needs changing. A new system is set for a January launch. But get out the balance sheet, weigh risk and cost, and fortress America may slam the gate.


George Borjas, professor of economics and social policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

Catheryn Cotten, director of the International Office at Duke University

Sour Grapes & GMOs

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“May contain traces of genetically-modified foods of more than 0.5 percent.” Sexy, it ain’t. Explosive, it is. Translated: “Don’t eat this stuff. It’s Franken-food. Nasty U.S. products on pristine European shelves.”

The European Parliament’s plan to change the rules on GM foods has American farmers up in arms. It’s an early volley in a new trade war, they say, and the Euros are using a secret weapon: consumer paranoia. “But hey,” say some American shoppers, “we want the whole truth, too.”

Genetically modified foods have slipped in down on the farm. Now they’re all over the market. Bad for the pests, great for the farmers, the jury has yet to weigh in on taste and health. Trans-Atlantic trade indigestion, and a touch of GMO heartburn at home.


David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection of the European

Kristin Dawkins, Vice President of International Programs, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Sarah Fogarty, Director of International Trade, Grocery Manufacturers of America

Nao Matsukata, director of policy planning at the office of the United
States Trade Representative


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To be or not to be, that’s not the question. To steal or not to steal, aye, there’s the rub. Quote the Bard, copy his style, are you a plagiarist or a master in the making? “Mediocre artists borrow” said Picasso, “great artists steal.”

If the adage is right that imitation is the highest form of flattery, it’s because it goes beyond sycophancy, it’s how we learn. And it may be high time for copying to make a comeback, putting individuality in its place.

The road to greatness follows in the footsteps, literally, of the great. Not forgery, emulation. The child mimics, the student mimics, does the adult lose out when he goes it alone? Relearning the art and benefits of imitation and eschewing originality.


Nicholas Delbanco, Director of the MFA Program in Writing at the Univesity of Michigan, and author of the this month’s Harper’s magazine article “In Praise of Imitation: On the Sincerest Form of Flattery.”

Ben Marcus, Assistant Professor of Writing at Columbia University, and author of, most recently, “Notable American Women.”